Friday, February 16, 2007

Zyprexa Story Heating Up

Sure, the New York Times got the ball rolling, but since then it's been Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons who has been doing the heavy lifting on the Zyprexa documents regarding alleged off-label promotion as well as potential hiding of Zyprexa's side effects.

Earlier this week, he posted an interesting story about a medical writer appearing to have an inordinate amount of input into how research results on Zyprexa were discussed, in which the discussion of Zyprexa's effect on glucose was bandied about by various Lilly personnel. My two cents on this story are available here. The popular blog Junkfood Science also expressed some amazement over this story.

Now, Slate is on board, marking the closest thing to the mainstream media touching this story in weeks. Slate posts a document, made available through Furious Seasons (link to all docs here) in which it seems pretty clear in my mind that Lilly was encouraging Zyprexa to be marketed off label.

Here is a slice of the Slate piece:
The memo sounds an awful lot as though Lilly wants its sales reps to tell primary-care physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for off-label uses. The law permits doctors to do so, but Lilly's executive vice president of science and technology, has stated flatly: "We do not engage in off-label promotion." That's difficult to square with the script on Page 3. "Doctor, you know your patients better than any other clinician," the memo reads, before describing three patient types a primary care physician would commonly see in his office: "Martha," an aged widow who is difficult for her family to manage at home; "David," who suffers from a probable "mood disorder"; and Christine, a twentysomething who struggles with "a history of poor work performance." None of these hypothetical patients would appear to suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which are the only two conditions Zyprexa is approved for.

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